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Dear Haters – Please Move On.

Editor’s note: Being a writer who publishes on the Internet means comments from friends, fans, and trolls. Trolls are especially vicious creatures who spew some venom for fun and giggles. Not every negative comment is from a troll–some criticism can be valid and spot on. Still, for writers who deal with dedicated haters, here’s how to deal with Internet trolls. 

 

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Good writers welcome constructive criticism from readers. Give online readers a comments section and they’ll often give you useful feedback, sharing insights about what did and didn’t work for them.

You listen, you learn.

Of course, a comments section will also bring out the Haters, whose “feedback” consists primarily of snarky zingers. But I’m okay with that. Hey, at least they’re reading me! Take the trouble to read my work, and I’ll reciprocate by listening to your reaction to it,  even if your “critique” amounts to, for instance, these responses to a recent humor piece:

“I puked at the title.“

“This is rubbish.”

“My eyes almost rolled outta my damn head.” And

“I’ll never get back the time I wasted reading this.“

(Ouch!)

facebook-haters

You hated my work? You want to tell me? Fair enough. Take your best shot, then move on.

Which brings us to the Very Special Haters. I’m thinking of two of you in particular.  I find you so annoying that I’m going to take the trouble to address you here. I’ve changed your names of course. But you know who you are.

Dear Jane: Apparently, you don’t care for my writing.  Each time I publish a new essay, you turn up in the comments section to tell me so. “It isn’t funny!” You gripe. “It’s lame. It’s pedestrian.”

And my all-time favorite criticism of a humor piece: “It isn’t important.”

And Jane, I totally get it. There are writers whose work I don’t like either. For instance, Joyce Carol Oates. Lots of readers adore her sparse and elegant prose.

Not me!

After gamely trying (and failing) to get through a number of her books and essays,  I threw in the towel and concluded that Joyce  just wasn’t my cup of tea.

This is what I do when I see her byline — I skip right over it! Instead, I read someone whose work I enjoy. (Joyce Wadler! Marion Winik! Gina Barreca!)

Do I need to explain my actions to her? Not really. If Joyce knew that I wasn’t reading her, would she change her ways? I’m pretty sure Joyce, with a zillion books in print, and more coming out every week,  would just laugh. All the way to the bank.

The band “Chicago” has lots and lots of fans. I loathe their music. Am I wrong? Are they a really good band? Who cares? All I’m saying is that if Chicago were playing in my home town,  I wouldn’t purchase a ticket, go to the show and sit through it screaming “This sucks!”

Life, Jane, is too damn short to suffer through art that doesn’t work for you. You have told me (many times) that you find my essays unsatisfying. Next time you see my byline, do yourself a favor.

Scroll on by.  Please! Go read somebody else.

Perhaps Joyce Carol Oates.

And Beth? You, oddly, took the trouble to “Like”  my Facebook Page  apparently for the sole purpose of kvetching at me about the fact that my essays do not meet your high standards.

Whenever I post a new one, you turn up — instantly! — to complain about it.

“Funny?” You scoff. “This isn’t funny. This is superficial. Boring. Predictable. I expect better.”

Why?? I’ve never led you to expect anything, Beth,  but this.

Why Like  “Roz Warren, Writer” so you can tell Roz Warren, Writer that you don’t Like her?

It’s a mystery to me.

Why waste your time? Why waste mine?

Jane and Beth. I’m sorry to say that what you are doing isn’t criticism. It’s just carping.

My conclusion? You both appear to have WAY too much time on your hands. It’s just wrong to spend the amount of time you do following me around the internet to berate me about my work. You both need to get a life.

And I can help!  Jane, meet Beth. Beth, meet your soul mate, Jane. You two have a lot in common. I’d suggest that you get to know each other. You can start by agreeing that this essay is lame, pedestrian and unfunny

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Previously published on Zest Now

Roz Warren

Roz Warren writes for the New York Times, the Funny Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Jewish Forward and the Huffington Post. And she‘s been featured on the Today Show. (Twice!) Her 13th humor book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0692406468/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0692406468&linkCode=as2&tag=midliboule-20&linkId=Q7T2PPAVRT3PR37G">”Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection Of Library Humor,"</a> is available on Amazon.

Roz Warren

Roz Warren writes for the New York Times, the Funny Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Jewish Forward and the Huffington Post. And she‘s been featured on the Today Show. (Twice!) Her 13th humor book, ”Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection Of Library Humor," is available on Amazon.

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Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Monday 12th of January 2015

This is hilarious! I have gotten trolled on Huffington Post especially... which I hear is fairly common. Will do my best to adopt your attitude. In Maya Angelou's book of essays (and I will butcher what she actually said...), she advised that if someone walked up to you, and forewarned, "You may not want to hear this...", you should say, "Then don't say it to me". And walk away. I guess you are suggesting the same attitude - just updated to social media. Thanks!

Roz Warren

Tuesday 13th of January 2015

I'm really glad that you enjoyed this piece, and that you took the time to tell me so. It's upbeat comments like yours that make the trolls possible to endure!

Art Fulley

Thursday 2nd of October 2014

Roz,

What a creative and clever way to write a great essay- Gutsy too: addressing the trolls directly! I suspect trolls are much like bullies: they were once bullied, and now they feel the need to bully others, when really what they need is some professional help. And they need to move on!! Beautiful job!! :))) Art

Roz Warren

Tuesday 13th of January 2015

Thanks, Art. FYI, neither "troll" has ever responded to this piece. Which works for me. :)

Joy Page Manuel

Thursday 2nd of October 2014

I can read this a hundred times and still keep nodding and nodding, Roz! I generally don't respond / debate with 'haters' and angry commenters who, for the most part, seem to me as if they didn't get what I wrote or focused on one point and then chose to twist everything I said. I really ask myself in those situations what responding to those ppl would. What for? They won't change their mind and won't even listen, would they? But those special trolls, ah....I will always remember what Carol Cassara (Midlife grp) said. "Having trolls means you've arrived!" Cheers!

Valerie Rind

Wednesday 1st of October 2014

Hi Roz,

I was ambushed by 300 trolls after a Huff Post Live segment. It gave me great material for a blog post. So let's toast the trolls for helping us further our writing careers!

Roz Warren

Wednesday 1st of October 2014

I'll drink to that! :)

Andrea@TablerPartyOfTwo

Wednesday 1st of October 2014

Oh my goodness, that is funny! I haven't published enough to have haters yet, but when I do, I'll be sure to re-read!

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